The national Kappa Alpha Order has finally caught up with the University’s chapter of KA — the tradition of parading in Confederate soldier garb is as dead as the Civil War.
Old South Week is a time for KA members to honor the men who founded the fraternity in 1865. For KA’s annual Old South Day during the week, members across the nation previously donned Confederate uniforms to parade on the streets of Athens and escort their dates to the Old South Ball.
Several student groups objected, calling the practice insensitive, and the national KA banned wearing Confederate uniforms earlier this month.
This prohibition came after an incident last year at the University of Alabama, where members wearing Confederate uniforms paused their parading in front of a black sorority house, the Associated Press reported.
But at the University, uniforms were outlawed years ago.
“In this world today, everything’s changing rapidly,” said Jefferson Knox, a senior from Augusta and president of the University’s KA chapter. “Everything is under scrutiny.”
Five years ago, KA cancelled their Old South day parade to deal with the Confederate uniforms.
“It was in our best interest to cancel it,” Knox said. “We didn’t want to take away from the purpose of our parade.”
The next year, the parade was there, but the uniforms weren’t.
The University’s KA chapter banned members from wearing Confederate attire and decided to changed the name of Old South Day to Founder’s Day.
“While it may have been a tradition in the past, traditions change,” Knox said.
Fraternity members now walk down Athens streets wearing khaki pants and white button-down shirts.
Beth Davis, a freshman from Woodstock, said there are ways to honor the South other than wearing Confederate clothing.
“They can still preserve the tradition of Old South day without offending someone else,” Davis said.
Xavier Watson, a junior from Newnan, said he doesn’t think KA should have banned the uniforms.
“You can’t change the history of Georgia,” Watson said.
The national KA took four years to match the University KA’s policies, but Knox said banning the uniforms is positive for all of the chapters across the country.
“It’s a step in the right direction as far as our relationship with the outside world,” he said